PETALING JAYA: Many Chinese medicine shop owners are claiming that their wildlife products can cure any sort of ailment.
“It really works, you might not believe it but my clients have been coming back for more,” said one who identified himself only as Chow.
He has a full-time job as an insurance agent but started selling porcupine bezoars six years ago.
“It is good money but it is not an easy job. I have to go into the jungle to get it from the orang asli,” said the 45-year-old.
Thinking that the price of bezoars could soar with increasing demand, Chow has stocked enough to last him the next few years.
“There’s no expiry date for this stuff,” he said.
Many medicine shop owners said their bezoar stocks came from Borneo and Indonesia.
Sellers like Chow buy the bezoar stones in bulk and grind it into powder form to sell to customers. A bezoar stone can cost upwards of RM50,000, depending on its size.
Most of the shop owners say it is legal to sell porcupine bezoars but never display it openly.
“Customers have to ask and then we bring it out. It’s expensive stuff,” said a shop owner in Petaling Jaya.
Another, who wanted to be known only as Ng, claimed that porcupines were bred in Sabah and the bezoars from these animals were cheaper.
“The most expensive ones are from porcupines in the wild, that is another grade,” he said.
It takes a professional to be able to tell if a bezoar stone is real or fake, according to Ng who has a shop in Subang.
He said some people had tried to sell him fakes.
Tan, another seller who wanted anonymity, said bezoar stones were formed when injured porcupines eat herbs to heal themselves.
“That’s why there are different grades and sizes,” he explained.